Close, But Unanimous: Cotto Beats Mosley

By Francis Walker
Updated: November 12, 2007

NEW YORK — Miguel Cotto remains unbeaten and has successfully defended his WBA welterweight championship in the biggest challenge of his career thus far. Making the third defense of the WBA 147-pound title, Cotto (31-0, 25 KOs) out-boxed Sugar Shane Mosley (44-4, 37 KOs with 1 No-Contest) through twelve rounds to win a very close unanimous decision on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

All three official judges at ringside scored the bout 115-113 (twice) and 116-113 for Cotto.

There were many questions as to how well a fight between Cotto and Mosley would do on the east coast, as opposed to the support of the casinos on the Las Vegas strip out West. Oscar De La Hoya, who is Mosley’s partner and promoter at Golden Boy Promotions, wasn’t worried at all.

“When you have Miguel Cotto and Sugar Shane Mosley there’s no risks whatsoever,” said De La Hoya, who runs Golden Boy Promotions along with Bernard Hopkins.

That statement proved to be very accurate, as 17,135 people packed the Garden with many more watching on HBO Pay-Per-View.

Mosley, the only fighter to have twice defeated Oscar De La Hoya and twice knockout Fernando Vargas, was the biggest threat to hand Cotto his first defeat.

Heading into the fight between two of the most recognizable welterweights in the world today, many predicted that Mosley’s speed and experience would be enough to tame a young lion like Cotto. Many others believed that Cotto’s relentless combination body punches would be enough to stop Mosley in the later rounds.

Almost everyone believed that “Cotto vs. Mosley: Fast & Furious” would conclude with a spectacular knockout.

The fight did not live up to the toe-to-toe slugfest that everyone had originally anticipated, but it was a very tough fight for both the young 27 year-old champion from Caguas, Puerto Rico, and Mosley, 36, LaVerne, CA.

“I work on the speed, the power, and the movement,” Cotto said during the post-fight press conference. “I think I showed everything.”

Cotto and Mosley were both cautious and didn’t want to walk into a big shot that would have given the other fighter an opportunity for a stoppage. Cotto had the crowd on their feet when he moved forward to throw several right hands that were partially blocked by Mosley. Cotto was momentarily stunned by Mosley toward the end of the second round.

“He hit me pretty good, pretty hard with punches,” Cotto added. “But I always stay in the fight.”

Mosley did a lot of clinching and holding onto to Cotto’s arm. Mosley tried to use his size advantage to muscle Cotto out of position so that he couldn’t setup his body punches.

In round four, Cotto landed solid left jabs, right hooks to the head, and left hooks Mosley’s body. He was on wobbly legs for a moment, but quickly collected himself. In round five, both fighters were conscious of the other fighter’s ability to throw hard body shots and knockout pressure.

Cotto’s left hooks to Mosley’s body were effective.

“Miguel is a little shorter, but strong physically.” Mosley added. “I’m not sure if he’s that real hard puncher where if he hits you with one shot he can hurt you to knock you out. He’s consistent with shots.”

Mosley added: “[Cotto’s] a good all-around fighter.”

In rounds seven and eight, Mosley noticeably bounced on his toes for more leverage and movement. Mosley kept his distance by jabbing and clinching. Cotto’s body attack was neutralized by Mosley’s ability of being a moving target.

Unlike the fighters to have fought Cotto in previous bouts, Mosley would not give Cotto an opportunity to pound on him relentlessly. Mosley boxed, moved, and clinched.

To Cotto’s credit, he made the fight by moving forward and attempted to engage Mosley into a fight. The judges were receptive to Cotto’s moving forward.

“I had gotten word that he was behind,” said Jack Mosley, Shane’s father and trainer. “I was urging Shane to go ahead and try to put some hooks and body shots in there — something I knew that would hurt [Cotto]. For whatever reason he just didn’t do it.”

Round nine was a very effective round for Mosley. Cotto found himself pinned and hammered against the topes on several occasions. The Garden crowd went nuts, as Mosley tried to stop Cotto, who appeared to be in trouble after receiving some good rights to his chin. Cotto was stunned by a right hand at the end of the round.

“We were in there banging away,” Mosley said. “I feel that a guy with my experience should get guys like Miguel Cotto out of there, but he proved me wrong.”

The tenth was really interesting. Mosley hurt Cotto with right hands that wobbled him against the ropes. However, Cotto stood his ground and finished strong by moving Mosley back with power shots.

In the final round, Mosley was reluctant to exchange punches with Cotto, who was also hesitant to throw punches. Cotto had a difficult imposing his will of breaking Mosley down with body shots because the challenger was no sitting duck. Mosley was a live body that Cotto was unwilling to chase.

Therefore, both Cotto and Mosley appeared satisfied to lasted twelve rounds with one another.

When asked about what’s next, Mosley said he needs to see the tapes of the fight “to see how I look to determine if I should hang’em up or keep going on.”

Cotto could face former WBO welterweight champion of five years Antonio Margarito, or the winner of the upcoming WBC welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton on December 8, Las Vegas.

Margarito Pummels Johnson

Antonio Margarito (35-5, 25 KOs), 29, Mexico, scored an emphatic first-round TKO of 33 year-old Texan, Golden Johnson (28-8-3, 18 KOs). The bout was waved at the 2:28 mark after Johnson had suffered his third knockdown. This was Margarito’s first fight since losing his 147-pound title to unbeaten southpaw Paul Williams in July.

Johnson, who was KO’d in seven rounds by Mosley in an IBF lightweight title fight in January 1999, upset current WBC 140-pound champion Oscar Diaz in his most recent fight — more than one year ago. Johnson won three of his last four fights dating back to 2005.

Johnson was simply no match for Margarito’s speed and power.

“I never think about the knockout,” Margarito said through an interpreter. It’s good that it happened in the first round and that I connected.”

Margarito could meet Cotto or the winner of a proposed WBO/IBF unification bout between Paul Williams & Kermit Cintron in February.

Casamayor Wins Controversial Decision

WBC “interim” lightweight champion, southpaw boxer Joel Casamayor (35-3-1, 21 KOs) of Cuba won a disputed 12-round split-decision over Jose Armando Santa Cruz (25-3, 14 KOs), 27 of Mexico.

At 36, Casamayor appeared in his first bout in more than one year. During his absence, Juan Diaz has unified his WBA lightweight title by making Acelino Freitas and David Diaz quit on their stools to capture the WBO/IBF titles respectively. However, Casamayor still believes that he is the man to beat at 135, not the much younger Diaz.

Against Cruz, Casamayor tasted the canvas in the opening round and was very rusty. Cruz outworked Casamayor through twelve rounds and should have been awarded the decision.

“After a layoff of one year, I feel that my timing was off,” Casamayor said. “I still feel that I won the fight.”

Ortiz KOs Maussa

Victor Ortiz (20-1-1, 15 KOs), 20, Oxnard, CA, proved to be a welterweight prospect on the move by knocking out former junior welterweight champion, Carlos Maussa (20-5 18 KOs), 36, Colombia, at the 1:47 into the first round.

Maussa won the WBA 140-pound title when he surprisingly knocked out Vivian Harris in the seventh round in June 2005. In Maussa’s first defense five months later the lost it to then IBF champion Ricky Hatton (KO by 9).

Maussa hasn’t fought since losing a 10-round decision to Manuel Garnica in August 2006. Maussa hasn’t won a fight since he beat Harris 2 ½ years ago. Maussa served his purpose as being “an opponent” for Ortiz to feast on.